SWIMMING: Coach's praise for rising star

3:22pm Wednesday 16th April 2014

By Andrew Simpson

DAVE Pettengell, head coach at Winsford Swimming Club, believes a teenager’s performance at last month’s annual Cheshire Championships is among the best he has seen.

Ashley Hogg amassed 22 gold medals, claiming eight new county bests.

Among those is a record set more than a quarter of a century ago.

“What he achieved is phenomenal,” said Pettengell, a tutor to a string of British international swimmers during his career.

“In terms of county records, it’s probably the most impressive I’ve seen. It’s an extremely hard thing to do, particularly as short course events like this one demand so much in terms of speed. He’d been training since the turn of the year to be ready.”

Unsurprisingly Hogg, 15, scooped the prize for best entrant in his age category.

Of his first place finishes, 10 were in the under 15s boys’ class.

To those he added seven junior titles – for swimmers under 16 – and five senior.

His time in the 400m freestyle, 4:02.24, bettered a marker set by Steven Mellor more than 25 years ago.

There were new records too in the 100m and 200m butterfly, 200m breaststroke, 200m and 400m individual medley and 1,500m freestyle.

Pettengell added: “It probably seems easy to tell somebody to swim quickly, but they have to be able mentally to cope.

“Ashley had to want to do it as well as putting in the training to be physically in shape to win so many races. He’s so single-minded though, and thrives on the pressure of expectation. It’s a special quality that you only see in the very best athletes.”

Hogg also won the boys’ skins title, an elimination competition during which the slowest swimmer in each of a series of 50m races is knocked out.

“Ashley won more medals on his own than some clubs managed in their entirety,” said Pettengell.

“There’s no doubt he helped Winsford to finish as fourth best club overall, easily our highest placing to date.”

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